Friday, August 30, 2013

Reason I Did Not Meet Seamus Heaney

When I heard the news that Seamus Heaney, the beloved Irish poet and scholar, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, had died, I was transported back to 2000.

The same day that I was to give my Distinguished Faculty Lecture at UMass Amherst, was precisely the same day, April 5, back in 2000, that Seamus Heaney was giving a reading a UMass Amherst and even the times were the same! As I recall, Professor Peg O/Brien, who is married to a colleague of mine, who has since retired, Professor Wynn Abranovic, was his host. Peg has written about Seamus Heaney.

My lecture was Networks for Fun and Profit. I was worried that, given the competition with a Nobel laureate in Literature, that noone would show up to my presentation!

Luckily, I did have an audience, and it was such an honor to then receive the Chancellor's Medal afterwards.

The dinner that followed at the Faculty Club (now the University Club) was attended by some close friends, several of whom have left. Our Provost at that time was Dr. Cora Marrett, who has served at NSF for many years and twice as its Interim Director. Also, Professor Vladimir Haensel and his wife, Herta,  were in attendance. Professor Haensel was a recipient of the National Medal of Science. Both my Dean at that time, the inimitable Tom O'Brien, his lovely wife, Gena, who has since passed away,  and  my former chairman, Professor Nelson Lacey, also came as did  my dear friend, Professor Kei May Lau, who has since left UMass and is at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology..

I suspect that the Chancellor was hosting the dinner in honor of Seamus.